Tanuja Chandra

She title sets the tone of the contents and one is prepared for an earthy, chatty, light meander through the bylanes of memory and small townish reminiscences. And this is what one gets. The stories are short and interspersed with great humour—both in the situations and characters depicted and in the manner of the telling.

Reviewed by: Malati Mathur
Bani Basu

Bani Basu’s Gandharvi (Original Bengali Gandharbi) narrates the story of Apala, her life and her musical journey. The crests and falls of her life mirror the high and low notes that she is able to sing with equal elan; however, unfortunately, the notes of her life do not have an equally happy ending.

Reviewed by: Madhumita Chakraborty
Tsewang Hishey Pemba

white Crane Lend me Your Wings is a heartbreaking story set in the idyl-lic Nyarong Valley of Tibet
in the pre- and post-Chinese occupation years—where people live enchanted lives, with simple needs, simple beliefs and a deep faith that their Gods will never fail them.

Reviewed by: Malati Mukherji
Vikramjit Ram

Written by Vikramajit Ram whose first book Elephant Kingdom: Sculptures from Indian Architecture was followed by two travelogues, The Sun And Two Seas marks his debut in fiction writing. A graduate in art from the National Institute of Design, Ram combines his knowledge of art and architecture with excellent narrative skill to tell—‘not the sad story of the death of kings’, though several deaths do occur in the novel—something that is more than an exceedingly readable tale.

Reviewed by: Catherine Thankamma
Sheela Reddy

The story of Ruttie and Jinnah could easily be translated into a screenplay. It has all the elements to make a compelling film—the tall and stately Muhammad Ali Jinnah so enigmatic in his quiet resolve to be the most powerful man falls for the beautiful and determined Ruttenbai Petit in her diaphanous saris and scandalous blouses to whom the fight for freedom is as thrilling as her dangerous romance with Jinnah.

Reviewed by: Zinnia Ray Chaudhuri
Sudhir Kapoor & Sunil Kapoor

The Peacock Feather is a collection of ten short stories by Sudhir and Sunil Kapoor, who inform us in the preface that they are monozygotic (identical) twins. They believe that monozygotic twins have a telepathic connection which has led them to this joint writing project wherein they have drawn from shared real life incidents ‘blending them , with some fictional and imaginary happenings to inculcate some twist, turns and morals in them’ (p. viii).

Reviewed by: Mala Pandurang
Kalindi Charan Panigrahi

The theme of Matira Manisha (Born Of The Soil) by Kalindi Charan Panigrahi, was inspired by Gandhian thought and principles. Published in 1931, it is regarded as a modern Odia classic and one among a few seminal novels written in the first half of twentieth century Odisha. When one talks of Matira Manisha one is reminded of The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, also published in 1931.

Reviewed by: Manoj Kumar Jena
Kuppili Padma. Translated from the original Telugu by Alladi Uma

There is an old world charm about Kuppili Padma’s short stories collected in English translation as Salabhanjika And Other Stories. But, this oldness does not go back to the 50s or 60s. It takes time for the fact to register that there are no cell phones in her stories. A bit shocking when we discover also that there is no Facebook or Twitter or Messenger.

Reviewed by: Ravi Shanker N.
Ambikasutan Mangad

In its skeletal form Swarga is the story of an environmental crime that occurred in Kerala; an account based on the author Mangad’s observations. It is a true story of the horrors inflicted on the environment by the official use of endosulfan—a banned insecticide and acaricide—that was sprayed to destroy the ‘tea-mosquito’ a nonexistent pest that supposedly destroyed plants. The real reason was that endosulphan was beneficial to the growth of Kerala’s lush cashew plantations, all of them owned by the higher echelons of society.

Reviewed by: Meera Rajagopalan
Tapan Basu

Awell-intentioned anthology of literary pieces from different genres and across several Indian languages by Dalit writers, excerpted and made available in English translation, this latest offering from the Oxford University Press adds a new creation: a text-book to the growing corpus of Dalit Writings.

Reviewed by: Rohini Mokashi Punekar

Rajesh Kumar’s translation of Ranendra’s Global Gaon Ke Devta (itself just 100 pages) is in unpretentious Indian English. Spiced up with local dialect, it’s an easily-acquired taste. You soon find out that what this thin book contains is an endeavour to melt down a mountain of memories and extract the here-and-now from an ancient civilizational predicament.

Reviewed by: Vasantha Surya
Walter N. Hakala

There is a growing interest among western scholars in various aspects of South Asian languages, in general, and in Urdu in particular. However, the book under review is least about Hindi (Nagari), and very much less about what came to be known after Partition in 1947, as Pakistan. This is rather an exploration of ‘the history of Urdu literature as a sociological phenomenon’.

Reviewed by: Mohammad Sajjad
P.P. Raveendran and G.S. Jayasree

Editing an anthology has always been a risky proposition. One can hardly predict from which perspective the readers will look at, educationists receive and the critics evaluate it: of academic value, the representation of genres, movements and authors or the overall approach reflected in the introduction and the contents.

Reviewed by: K. Satchidanandan
V.R. Yeravdekar and G. Tiwari

Yeravedekar and Tiwari have presented an insightful argument towards the need for strengthening the internationalization of higher education in India. Their rich experience as scholars as well as administrators in India and abroad has contributed to the development of meaningful insights in locating education in India within the context of neighbouring countries and the world at large.

Reviewed by: Toolika Wadhwa
Devesh Kapur

It is hard to remember a time when ‘Higher Education’ in India was not in a ‘state of crisis’. It is equally difficult to meet a ‘stakeholder’ in the system—student, teacher, administrator, policy maker, prospective employer, educational entrepreneur, consultant or lobbyist—who would not complain about how ineffective, inefficient, corrupt, expensive, exploitative, unjust, unimaginative and soul crushing the system is. All of them concur that the existing order is unviable.

Reviewed by: Ravindra Karnena
Nicholas Magriel

The work of years of immersion in Hindustani music, these two massive volumes are a very important contribution to the documentation and study of khayal, the preeminent genre of raga music that we recognize today as ‘classical’.

Reviewed by: Partho Datta
Kirti Jain

In a country where audio and filmic documentation of theatre is abysmally poor, Badal Sircar will perhaps be remembered primarily as a playwright simply because we don’t have nearly enough record of his plays in performance for future generations, and what we have is not of very good quality.

Reviewed by: Sudhanva Deshpande
Ruskin Bond

The title of Ruskin Bond’s autobiography derives from a poem he wrote some years ago and is so central to the text that it deserves retelling:

Reviewed by: Satish C. Aikant
Chandak Sengoopta

The name of Satyajit Ray, the famous filmmaker is known to film lovers across India. But most Bengalis of my generation would know that Satyajit Ray (1921–1992) was far more than an extraordinary filmmaker. He was an immensely talented music composer, a best-selling writer and one of Bengal’s most gifted illustrators and typeface designers.

Reviewed by: Shohini Ghosh
M.K. Ranjitsinh

M.K. Ranjitsinh’s timing is impeccable. He joined the IAS in 1961. Having gone through the obligatory training and having started his climb up the administrative ladder in the State of Madhya Pradesh, he fulfilled his childhood vow to become the Collector of Madla in 1967. Just when the last 66 barasinghas were at the fag end of their struggle for survival at Kanha enters the one Collector who had an interest in wildlife and was familiar with village resettlement for conservation (from Dungarpur and Dachigam). Supported by his superior, the redoubtable Mahesh Buch, he resettles the villages located on the Sonph grassland (an unprecedented exercise) and the barasinghas begin their recovery.

Reviewed by: Himraj Dang
Ellen Carol Dubois and Vinay Lal

A Passionate Life is a collection of essays on Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, edited by Ellen Carol Dubois and Vinay Lal. Here is a woman, born in 1903, in a rural area in South West India, not only breaking every social and cultural norm of that era, but walking into the highest places in India’s freedom struggle. There are hardly any substantial writings by the prominent modern history scholars on this woman’s life.

Reviewed by: Devaki Jain
Mohammad A. Quayum

Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain was first and foremost a very courageous woman who dared to fight against all odds and achieve for women a status of dignity, self-reliance and creative agency in a time and milieu that was hostile, inhospitable and even against the equal rights of men and women.

Reviewed by: Ananya Pathak
Debarati Halder and K. Jaishankar

The structural violence at both the public and personal levels that Indian women face routinely in the physical world has taken the better part of four decades to recognize, articulate and resist. Today, it continues to remain one of the biggest crises of Indian social life, taking on new forms and permeating new ecologies. Foremost among these new ecologies is the cyber space.

Reviewed by: Pamela Philipose
Rahul Ramagundam

Rahul Ramagundam teaches at the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. His book, Including the Socially Excluded: India’s Experience with Caste, Gender and Poverty explores the politics around the issues of Poverty and Exclusion. Some chapters are updated versions of articles published in various journals and publications, while others are based on studies conducted in the field by the author mostly in the Gaya region of Bihar, said to be among the poorest districts in the country.

Reviewed by: Cynthia Stephen
Oishik Sircar and Dipika Jain

This edited anthology is a timely intervention that aims to contribute to the body of scholarship on formations of desire and intimacy framed by the asymmetries of global contact and interpenetration. In order to establish the continuing potential of queer theory as a transformative body of knowledge this anthology brings together an impressive range of scholars from differing locations who analyse the links between law, culture and queer politics.

Reviewed by: Navaneetha Mokkil
Sylvia Vatuk

Indian judges continue to believe that normative changes in law on their own can bring about social reform. In an unprecedented move a two judge bench of Justice Dave and Justice Goel in Prakash v. Phulwati (2015) suo moto ordered registration of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) to examine the constitutionality of discriminatory provisions of Muslim Personal Law (MPL).

Reviewed by: Faizan Mustafa
Townsend Middleton

The book’s contemporariness is obvious in the context of the resurgence of autonomist politics accompanied by street violence/strike in the Darjeeling hills after a brief lull. For any observer of hill politics, it is obvious that the ground reality in the insurgent region has remained largely the same even after the change in the political regime, local organizational leadership and a new player BJP gaining traction in the region.

Reviewed by: Ashutosh Kumar
Namit Arora

An old ballad sung by Joan Baez many years back went something like this: Show me the prison/Show me the jail/Show me the hobo/who sleeps down by the rail/ And I’ll show you a young man/With so many reasons why/There but for fortune, go you and I.

Reviewed by: Mohan Rao
Romila Thapar

While Indian society has been secular for centuries, the Indian state has adopted secular and democratic ideas only in the post-Independence phase—that is, since the 1950s. Sadly, both secularism and democracy have come under attack in India in recent times, according to one of the foremost historians of our age, Romila Thapar.

Reviewed by: Nalini Rajan
Irfan Habib

The book under review is another addition to the People’s History of India
Series; concise and lucidly written, this series is marked by the principled allegiance to historical evidence and a secular, scientific approach to Indian history. Written for scholars and students, they provide a succinct survey of the latest historical trends, and provide directions for further research in Indian history.

Reviewed by: Shivangini Tandon
Arshia Sattar

The book is the fifth volume in the Penguin series on ‘The Story of Indian Business’ edited by Gurcharan Das. This book has been authored by Arshia Sattar and is a collection of short stories and carefully selected extracts from well-known Sanskrit works.

Reviewed by: T.C.A. Ranganathan
Sumathi Ramaswamy

The Goddess and the Nation provides a timely, if somewhat troubling re-minder of one strand within the
nationalist movement, tracing its development primarily through a study of visual representations of Bharat Mata, a deified mother India, and her children, especially her sons. Lavishly illustrated and annotated, it carries the reader through over a century of colonial and postcolonial history.

Reviewed by: Kumkum Roy
Rajmohan Gandhi

The political appropriation of Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy has been going on for decades. Now the trend has spread to unlikely quarters. Gandhi peersat us from posters, sharing space with his ideological opponents. Even artifacts associated with him, like his spectacles, have been used as logo in government propaganda. Commercialization has been a parallel process, initially for marketing products purportedly of cottage industries, and then for a whole range ofother things. The powers that be appreciate the brand value of the
name Gandhi.

Reviewed by: Sabyasachi Bhattacharya